After the opening day of the 2023 Minnesota Hockey State youth tournaments in mid-March, the talk of the rinks wasn’t about a particular game or a spectacular offensive performance.
The cloud of conversation featured a goaltender.
He was tall. He stood on his head against one of the prohibitive favorites in his team’s field. He made 30 saves. No, he made 40 saves. Maybe 45.
Carter Casey’s now-legendary performance (yes, legendary performances exist in youth hockey) against powerhouse Osseo-Maple Grove on March 17 is a fitting way to bookend a 2022-2023 season that arguably began last August. That month, Casey was named Most Valuable Player of the Bantam Elite League’s Major Division. This honor carries significant weight in a league typically less-than-kind to its goaltenders.
From then on, Casey helped the Thudnerhawks to 32 wins on the season, and saved his best performances for when it mattered most - the postseason Region and State Tournaments.
Casey led Grand Rapids to a backdoor win in the Region consolation bracket for the right to play at State, then made 41 saves on 42 shots to beat Osseo-Maple Grove in the quarterfinal round.
The Thunderhawks dropped their next two games by identical scores of 3-1 against eventual state champion Edina and Rogers in the third-place game, but Casey’s combined 49 saves on 55 shots gave the black-and-orange every chance to make a run.
Chase Bjorgaard, Edina Bantam AA
|Chase Bjorgaard||Edina||Bantam AA|
|Blake Brekke||Mankato||Peewee A|
|Brecken Carlson||Woodbury||Peewee B|
|Carter Casey||Grand Rapids||Bantam AA|
|Carter Nash||Hermantown||Peewee AA|
Hampton Slukynsky, Warroad
|2021||Mason McElroy||Wayzata||Bantam AA|
|2019||Isaiah Paulnock||Eden Prairie||PeeWee AA|
|2018||Sklyar Vetter||Lakeville North||Bantam AA|
|2017||Uma Corniea||Edina||PeeWee A|
|2016||Konrad Kausch||Duluth East||PeeWee AA|
|2015||Carsen Stokes||Prior Lake||PeeWee AA|
|2014||Zach Stejskal||Grand Rapids||Bantam AA|
2022 Boys Goalie of the Year, Austin Brauns of Andover.